DAYTON — A 1977 University of Dayton graduate and his wife are pledging a $12.5 million gift — the largest single gift in the school’s history.
The gift, from the George and Amanda Hanley Foundation, is intended to “establish the University as a national leader for innovation in sustainability education.”
UD President Daniel J. Curran says at many universities, sustainability education is focused solely on the environmental sciences.
“This gift will extend sustainability education across multiple disciplines, creating innovative learning opportunities for undergraduates and graduates, enhancing faculty and student research while expanding community and corporate partnerships and experiential education,” Curran said.
The gift will expand the university’s sustainability programs will be extended campuswide.
“It is our intent with this gift to allow students and faculty throughout the University to think creatively about how to put their knowledge to work in real-world projects that extend learning beyond the classroom,” said George Hanley, a 1977 business graduate and member of the University of Dayton board of trustees. “We want to educate and prepare students for careers — in every sector — that will help create a more sustainable future.”
Amanda Hanley said this institute will bring together students and faculty from science, business, engineering, law, art, journalism and other departments to address environmental and social justice challenges.
With the Hanleys’ lead gift, the University will launch a comprehensive campaign to raise funds from foundations, corporations and other donors to bring total funding for the institute to $25 million.
“We at the Sierra Club are thrilled about this substantial investment in eco-literacy,” said Avital Andrews, who oversees Sierra magazine’s annual ranking of America’s greenest schools. “It’s rare to hear about philanthropists who directly support college students’ environmental education — which is even more important than supporting brick-and-mortar sustainability improvements on campus, since it’ll empower young people to create a more sustainable world.”
Initial objectives of the institute include:
● Developing an interdisciplinary graduate certificate in sustainability.
● Creating an urban agriculture demonstration project with community partners in Dayton.
● Establishing Hanley Research Fellows and Hanley Scholars-in-Residence to support student and faculty research.
● Inaugurating the Hanley Conference on Sustainability Education to convene dialogue on innovations in sustainability learning.
● Earning a gold STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System) designation from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education and eventually becoming the top-rated Catholic university on that list.